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Bradley men’s basketball faces challenging MVC schedule

Ja’Shon Henry shoots from the post against Maryville during the 2019-20 season. Photo courtesy of Bradley Athletics.

The Braves’ men’s basketball team saw the final pieces of their schedule fall into place on Thursday, as the Missouri Valley Conference released conference slates for all 12 teams.

With new MVC members Murray State, Belmont and Illinois-Chicago in the fold, the Braves will play 20 conference games, starting with a home matchup on Nov. 30. Bradley now has 31 total games on its schedule, not including a preseason exhibition game against Illinois Wesleyan on Nov. 2.

The MVC’s conference schedule previously lasted 18 games for both men’s and women’s basketball and was more simplistic in nature — each school played one home game and one away game against the other nine members of the conference. Now, Bradley and the rest of the MVC will play a home-and-away series with nine of their 11 conference foes and face the two remaining schools just once.

The schedule shook out so that Bradley’s pair of one-time opponents in the 2022-23 season are Indiana State and Evansville. Former Bradley guard Jayson Kent transferred to Indiana State over the offseason but will not make a return trip to Peoria in his junior year, as the Braves travel to Terre Haute on Jan. 18.

Bradley will get its first taste of MVC action right after Thanksgiving, as their conference slate opens up with a home contest against Northern Iowa followed by a trip to Missouri State on Dec. 3. This season marks the second year that the Valley has scheduled conference games in the midst of the non-conference schedule. Last year, the Braves defeated UNI 71-69 on a layup from now-departed guard Terry Roberts in the waning seconds to open up conference play.

Following their early taste of the MVC, the Braves will round out their non-conference slate, including a game at SEC power Arkansas in North Little Rock before clashing with Belmont on Dec. 28 in Nashville. Illinois-Chicago will make their first trip to Peoria since 2019 on New Years’ Eve.

Other notable games include Belmont’s first game in Carver Arena as an MVC member on Saturday, Jan. 21 and the Braves’ home leg of the War on I-74 rivalry with Illinois State on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Bradley will travel to Redbird Arena exactly two weeks later on Feb. 8.

The Braves will have a crucial stretch of home games as the regular season nears its end, hosting Murray State on Saturday, Feb. 11 and Missouri State on Wednesday, Feb. 15 before closing their regular season with a Senior Night clash against Drake on Sunday, Feb. 26. Each of those teams finished the 2021-22 season in the top 85 of the NCAA’s NET rankings.

Bradley’s full conference schedule is listed below. All game times will be announced at later dates: 

  • Wednesday, Nov. 30 vs. Northern Iowa
  • Saturday, Dec. 3 at Missouri State
  • Wednesday, Dec. 28 at Belmont
  • Saturday, Dec. 31 vs. Illinois-Chicago
  • Wednesday, Jan. 4 at Murray State
  • Saturday, Jan. 7 vs. Valparaiso
  • Wednesday, Jan. 11 vs. Evansville
  • Saturday, Jan. 14 at Drake
  • Wednesday, Jan. 18 at Indiana State
  • Saturday, Jan. 21 vs. Belmont
  • Wednesday, Jan. 25 vs. Illinois State
  • Sunday, Jan. 29 at Illinois-Chicago
  • Wednesday, Feb. 1 vs. Southern Illinois
  • Saturday, Feb. 4 at Northern Iowa
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Illinois State
  • Saturday, Feb. 11 vs. Murray State
  • Wednesday Feb. 15 vs. Missouri State
  • Sunday, Feb. 19 at Southern Illinois
  • Wednesday, Feb. 22 at Valparaiso
  • Sunday, Feb. 26 vs. Drake
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